Related Articles: Literary, All

Dershowitz'sSupreme Injustice Serves Scandal Cold

When reading this well written - albeit self-serving - polemic, one simply cannot refrain from thinking up additional subtitles: "What else can you expect from pigs but grunts?" "How an idealistic Harvard Law School Professor and defender of O.J. Simpson found out there's no Santa Claus and no Easter Bunny on the same day." "Liberal lawyer with great credentials desires post as U.S. Supreme Court Justice (when Democrats return to the White House)."

It takes Mr. Dershowitz 175 pages to correctly label what the five Republican-appointed U.S. Supreme Court justices did by stopping the Florida vote count in the 2000 election: a "scandal." Thanks, Alan. Dershowitz continues on to report his findings: as it turns out, the votes of millions of Florida voters were not counted, and some votes that should not have been counted were. Likewise, in order to reach its decision, all of the justices had to abandon the logic and precedent they had firmly embraced in other decisions that dealt with matters pertaining to capital punishment. Once those hanging chads, pregnant chads, butterfly ballots and Votomatic machines came into view, reason took flight.

Dershowitz speculates as to the motives of each of the conservatives for voting to stop the vote count and knowingly handing Bush the presidency. Patriotism, partisanship, wanting to be USSC Chief Justice (Kennedy - surprisingly, not Scalia), retirement (O'Connor), revenge and anger (Thomas), ideology and a continuing conservative majority - a.k.a., the going to lunch together motive (Rehnquist). Likewise, Dershowitz lets us know he considers most of these justices intellectual lightweights, as well as corrupt individuals who have clearly damaged the reputation of the Court in the public mind.

As with all great scandals since President Kennedy's assassination, there is the predictable wish-list of reforms. Dershowitz desires more oversight, more advice from the Senate given to Presidents, more reliance on the ABA and so on. Being a student of white-collar crime, I can show you some wonderful reform ideas that have been around since the 1970's that no politician has so much as kissed. What about the realities of postmodern mass democracy that Mr. Dershowitz has sadly overlooked?

Aside from finding out we don't really have the right to vote, what did Mr. Dershowitz teach us with this book? Not much. When we do vote, it is frequently for candidates who are bought and paid for by wealthy elites in an out-of-control campaign financing system. How many votes are cast as a result of slick and manipulative propagandistic campaign appeals that have reduced citizenship to a contest between advertisers? What Dershowitz has discovered is that the system is in crisis, and the Supreme Court is but one symptom of the illness.

Supreme Injustice: How the Supreme Court Hijacked Election 2000
by Alan M. Dershowitz
New York: Oxford University Press, 2001
$25.00 (Hardcover, 275 pages).
>> Buy It Now: Supreme Injustice

Dr. Simon is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and San Jose State University, specializing in white-collar crime, criminal justice and sociology.

Would you like to submit a book review for consideration? Email us for details and submission guidelines.